Hopkinson, who will become president of the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) later this year, has more than 35 years of experience in manufacturing and contracting. He was managing director at Hargreaves for six years.
He said he was delighted to be joining the 93-year-old family-owned business because of its strong reputation for quality and project delivery. He added that his close friendship with Gareth Vaughan, the previous managing director of Poppleton, who passed away suddenly last year, had also played a major part in his decision.
Hopkinson will work alongside Sue Vaughan, who has been managing the business since December 2015.
“I know some people will be surprised that I would leave a large and successful company to join a much smaller family-owned business, but I could not resist the opportunity and am very excited about this new challenge,” said Mr Hopkinson.
“This is a great company with a fantastic reputation. My friendship with Gareth and Sue gave me a unique insight into the ethos of Poppleton and I look forward to steering it into a new era.”
“For the moment, the industry as a whole is looking for some stability and certainty,” said Mr Hopkinson. “We need more reassurance from the government around Brexit, which presents a risk to business investment – and we need to adapt to the scarcity of resource available to our sector because of the likely surge in infrastructure activity.”
He said the main focus of his year as BESA president would be on “driving talent into our industry” with a high priority given to supporting the new Trailblazer apprenticeship framework. He described this as being “critical to the sector’s ability to deliver successful projects in the future”.
“Poppleton has always had a reputation for training and I understand how important it is for employers to have confidence in the market before investing in apprentices,” said Mr Hopkinson.
“I am not convinced that the current model of driving apprentice training through major project supply chains is sustainable. Employers must have some certainty of the future pipeline of work in order to inwardly invest in apprenticeships. Government also has an essential part to play by providing a commitment to build when planned.”
Mr Hopkinson went on to say that creating the right environment for employers to invest in apprentices could deliver significant business benefits to contractors including long term productivity improvements.